In my previous post, I spoke about Agatha Christie being recommended by my friends for her mystery books. Clive Cussler is another author whose books, especially the Dirk Pitt series, have been recommended to me many times due to my love for action. I haven’t yet read any books featuring Dirk Pitt but I managed to get hold of my first Cussler book, The Race, which features Isaac Bell.
The book is set in 1909, a few years after the Wright Brothers go on their first flight. Preston Whiteway, the owner of San Francisco Inquirer newspaper, announces an air race across the country. The fastest pilot to cross the country in less than 50 days along the designated route will receive a cash prize of $50,000 along with the Whiteway Cup trophy. Preston sponsors the only woman in the race, Josephine, intending to boost the sales of his newspaper through the race coverage. Josephine witnesses the murder of her friend Marco Celere by her husband Harry Frost. She is being hunted and on the run. Preston hires the Van Dorn detective agency to protect Josephine from Frost. The chief investigator, Isaac Bell, is in charge of the case and he soon discovers that all is not as it seems.
I have been struggling with my reading for the past few months. I had not read a single page for the first 13 days of this month and then I picked up this book. Got me right back on track as I completed the 400-page book in 3 days. The book is action packed right from the start and made me realize that I have missed reading these kind of books. The pace does not slow down at any point and kept me turning the pages.
It was only after I finished the book that I discovered Isaac Bell is a recurring character and part of a series of books. The Race can be read as a standalone and I never felt that I missed out on something from previous books. There was no real mystery as such and I figured out most things right before they happened. But this did not take away anything from the book; nor did it dampen my reading experience.
There is a small part about how the aviators come to realize that a seat belt is required for safe flying. I loved this little detail included into the plot. As usual, there were some who accepted it and others who thought it was cowardly to use a seat belt. So typical of the human race.
The book is more of a one-man show by Bell. It was all about how he saves the day. I wish we got more insight into other characters especially Josephine. Even though she’s one of the main character, she does not feature in even half of the book. We do get glimpses of her past but not enough to form an opinion about her character. She’s nicknamed “America’s Sweetheart of the Air” but her character is not given the importance she deserves and I realized that I didn’t really care whether she won the race or not.
I loved how it ended though the showdown between Bell and Frost could have been done better. Since the book is set during the early days of powered-flight, most of the aircraft descriptions went over my head. They were difficult to imagine but not impossible.
Even with the little flaws and a few plot holes, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I’m looking forward to reading more books By Cussler; especially the Dirk Pitt series. The Race is perfect for those who love some action in their books.
My Rating: 4⭐/5.